How many turbines are too many for a municipality? That’s the question Melancthon council hopes the province will some day answer.
The township’s council recently approved a resolution asking the province to set a limit to the number of industrial wind turbines within a municipality.
“Somewhere, somehow, there has to be a system that says enough is enough,” Mayor Bill Hill said. “Hopefully, it opens a dialogue door.”
In search of support for the cap, Melancthon forwarded the resolution to its fellow Dufferin County municipalities, Grey County, the Inter-Municipal Turbine Working Group, as well as the ministers of energy, environment, municipal affairs and housing, agriculture, and Premier Dalton McGuinty. Mulmur and the township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh have supported the resolution.
Hill added council would seek an audience with provincial ministers at a conference this February.
“We’re trying to get some control back, or input back into this process,” Hill said. “We’ve tried many different things that haven’t worked.”
Melancthon is currently home to 111 turbines and as many as 60 more windmills may be constructed within the municipality.
“We’ve done our bit. Somewhere along the line there has to be some way we can say enough is enough,” Hill said.
The resolution asks for the cap to be based on a municipality’s size and create a one turbine per 2.5 sq. km restriction.
“It’s not really scientific, it’s based on a turbine per square mile,” Deputy Mayor Darren White said. “We tried to look at not limited too much area and not preventing too much future development.”
Industrial turbines require a setback of at least 550 metres. White said the turbines, combined with the setback, are limiting the opportunity for new development.
“If you look at an aerial map we are substantially covered already,” White said. “Every community needs to be able to grow.”
Hill added he would like to see the resolution included in the province’s review of the Feed-in Tariff program (FIT) that is currently underway.
The Ministry of Energy has issued a call to Ontarians to share their thoughts on the program.
Ministry of Energy spokesperson Paul Gerard said the FIT review would give municipalities’ opportunity to help shape the future of renewable energy in the province.
“The FIT review will consider local consultations,” Gerard said in an email. “The review will build on the success of the program and continue to ensure long-term sustainability, transparency and predictability for industry and investors.”
White, however, believes the province is not listening to municipalities’ concerns.
“They are not willing to talk about a cap or any planning authority for the townships whatsoever,” he said.
“I’m willing to sit down and talk to them and listen to their logic and they can listen to my logic. Hopefully, we can work from there.”
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